The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of GPNE’s post-trial motions following the jury’s verdict of non-infringement.  The patents-at-issue are directed to a two-way paging system which operates independently from a telephone system.  The claims referred to the devices on the network as “nodes,” and the district court construed the term “nodes” to mean a “pager with two-way data communications capability that transmits wireless data communications on a paging system that operates independently from a telephone network.”  GPNE disputed this construction, because, among other things, it believed that the meaning of the term “pager” itself is also the subject of dispute among the parties and therefore it would be improper to leave it to the jury to determine its meaning. 

On appeal, the court affirmed the construction of “nodes” as being limited to pagers, because the patent specification repeatedly and consistently characterize the term “nodes” as being “pagers.”  The court further rejected GPNE’s contention that the district court erred by using the disputed term “pagers” in its construction, and therefore it violated O2 Micro’s requirement that the court has a duty to construe disputed claim terms.  By construing the claim term “nodes” to be limited to “pagers,” the court resolved the parties’ dispute over the meaning of the claim term “nodes.”  Having done that, the court was under “no obligation to address other potential ambiguities that have no bearing on the operative scope of the claim.”  Here, other portions of the construction further limits the meaning of pager and thus helps to define claim scope.  

GPNE Corp. v. Apple, Inc., Case No. 2015-1825 (August 1, 2016); Opinion by: Prost, joined by Taranto and Chen; Appealed From: United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Koh, J.  Read the full opinion here.

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